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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » How About an Entirely Horizontal MMORPG

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61 posts found
  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/04/12 10:06:22 PM#1

When you log in, you custom-create a character using a numerical pool for stats you distribute as you wish according to a weighted system.  You pick from available basic gear that has X amount of stats.  These stats never increase, but they can have different distributions .  You also pick your gender, race, name and can invent a name for your own profession. 

Next, you pick from a base assortment of skills, talents, traits, etc. These are like cards you collect, but everyone starts out with a base selection. You fill out your skill/talent/trait slots as you see fit.

Skills, talents and traits are based off of the non-comparable paradigm found in League of Legends. You can collect a vast assortment of different skills, talents and traits and create different builds when you start up the game client, but each time you log into the actual game world all character specs are locked (this doesn't extend to gear, food, potions, etc. - just stats, traits, talents and skills).  All trait, talent and skill "cards" you collect are usable by any character you create.

Thus, the entire game world is essentially flat.  There is no need for "starter" or "midrange" areas (that soon become depopulated).  Right outside the log-in area, or on the other side of the world, it's the same "level" of PvE. The world has dynamic events and quests, vast solo areas and instances, raid areas, dungeons, WvW, PvP arenas, dueling, group-oriented boss mobs, etc. There can be different areas that have different crafting components/resources - note: there would be no need for different "levels" of crafting.  All recipes would be worthwhile, depending on your build.

There can be many ways to collect gold or various tokens for acquiring new trait, skill and talent "cards", as well as various kinds of skins for your character and for gear.  The cash shop can sell skins and lock boxes with random cards amont other things. It might also sell certain standardized "card" sets or animation/sound effect packages, bank slots, character slots, etc.

Expansions can drop in entirely different horizontal concepts - politics, exploration, fighting skills, crafting, etc. - with appropriate "card" sets, gear stat arrangements (not increases), and skins. Modules can be offered (for a price) where players can design their own gear styles, furniture for their homes, guild or other appropriate customizables.

You wouldn't even have to create a huge world to begin with. League of Legends started out very small.  Start-up costs would be much lower than the usual MMOG because you could just cut out 90% of the stuff other MMOG's are full of that nobody uses more than a few weeks anyway to get to the end game.

In a purely horizontal MMOG, the whole world is in fact the "end game", so you need none of that other pre-end-game content at launch. Since it is only going to expand horizontally, then whatever tokens or gold players amass by playing before expansions come out will be usable for the new horizontal content, giving them reason to play in-between expansions even if they amass all the "cards" currently available.

Such an MMOG could offer enormous long-term horizontal opportunities - to build houses, estates, even cities; become famous for many different reasons; explore factions and pursue political prestige, become an explorer, build boats or airships ... the sandbox-style possibilities would be endless.  And, in a flat game, there is no "pay to win" as far as a cash shop is concerned, so the game could be monetized for high profit.  The role-playing potential would be enornous.

  Xiaoki

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2500

12/05/12 2:37:22 AM#2

Seems like you want to include everything and the kitchen sink ....except combat.


You talk endlessly about crafting, housing and exploring but not combat.


What if I dont care about crafting and I want to kill things? What would be the purpose of defeating the hardest PvE content in the game? Would it give me gear comparable to the effort involved?


What about PvP? Is there any purpose to the PvP other than killing other players?


And these concerns are excusing what a balancing nightmare the system would be.

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 8:18:08 AM#3

What you speak of is what has kept me up late nights trying to work out and I don't think it would appeal to many.

Humans have a drive to "get things". From Maslow's hierarchy of needs ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ) we know their basic needs but once they advance in the pyramid I think they look down and say - oh, I could have that "better" thing over there to replace my average "thing" here. You could also put it in the "esteem" category. It's a product of my particular country (maybe not yours) to acquire wealth and put happiness secondary, we work more than we play often to support a lifestyle. We don't sit back and smell the roses until we are aged, if we make it there. No real surprise that the same goals haunt us when gaming. We may don a character but it's still us behind the wheel. We will carry over our societal wants and needs with us.

 

Sadly it all leads to some form of progression. I can understand making that as painless as possible but without "getting better or more things" what is going to make the majority of your users login to the game. As much as I dislike saying it, I do think some form of progression is necessary to satiate the majority.

 

Your words on this whole scheme are also vague. As an example, Work me out in text (not theory) how you make 500 crafting recipes that are all as appealing as each other but none are better. Now, do that for multiple crafting types because without a variation of crafting types, everyone makes the same thing and there is no demand only supply. Why 500? You plan on having expansions right, can't put it all out there on day 1 and stop, maybe you release 100 each game build.

 

If the whole concept is a card collecting game, why wouldn't I just play magic the gathering, no cash shop there  :P

 

 

  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/05/12 8:30:04 AM#4
Originally posted by Xiaoki

Seems like you want to include everything and the kitchen sink ....except combat.


You talk endlessly about crafting, housing and exploring but not combat.


What if I dont care about crafting and I want to kill things? What would be the purpose of defeating the hardest PvE content in the game? Would it give me gear comparable to the effort involved?


What about PvP? Is there any purpose to the PvP other than killing other players?


And these concerns are excusing what a balancing nightmare the system would be.

I included PvE in my O.P. but didn't spend much time on it because I consider it a "given".  The variations you could have for PvE combat could be virtually limitless you could build any sort of character within various weighted systems - put in a couple of fire elementalist cards with a dash of psionic and some terrain movement specialties; sneak cards, bludgeon cards, pet cards, etc.  Heavy armor would be weighted against some terrain movement specialties; heavy armor would be contingent on strength, which draws the character stat pool away from magic and towards heavy weapon use (since the strength is alreasdy there for the armor), etc.

PvP and WvW provide tokens of some sort and/or gold that can be used to trade for/purchase various goods, including cards, gear variations, skins, resources.  PvP can have leaderboards, tournaments and titles, along with tokens. WvW benefits can include tokens/gold. 

Since it's a flat game, I'm not sure what you mean by "the hardest content". If by that you mean the content that takes the most players the most coordinated effort, your reward is a larger amount of gold, tokens and other resources than you can get from defeating less difficult content. No "gear" or card drops from any creature - the only things that drop anywhere in the game are usable resources, gold and tokens.  This way you use the gold, resources and tokens to get exactly what you want and you're not stuck with gear or cards that you happen to find that may or may not fit your character design.

Remember, from day 1 you always have gear that has max statistics that are generally distributed to standard build types; with crafting or via purchases you can get gear with more specific stat distributions and skin sets you want.

  TheOctagon

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/12/11
Posts: 169

12/05/12 8:35:18 AM#5
http://www.firefallthegame.com/
  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/05/12 9:08:31 AM#6
Originally posted by greenreen

What you speak of is what has kept me up late nights trying to work out and I don't think it would appeal to many.

Humans have a drive to "get things". From Maslow's heirarchy of needs ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ) we know their basic needs but once they advance in the pyramid I think they look down and say - oh, I could have that "better" thing over there to replace my average "thing" here. You could also put it in the "esteem" category. It's a product of my particular country (maybe not yours) to acquire wealth and put happiness secondary, we work more than we play often to support a lifestyle. We don't sit back and smell the roses until we are aged, if we make it there. No real surprise that the same goals haunt us when gaming. We may don a character but it's still us behind the wheel. We will carry over our societal wants and needs with us.

 

Sadly it all leads to some form of progression. I can understand making that as painless as possible but without "getting better or more things" what is going to make the majority of your users login to the game. As much as I dislike saying it, I do think some form of progression is necessary to satiate the majority.

 

Your words on this whole scheme are also vague. As an example, Work me out in text (not theory) how you make 500 crafting recipes that are all as appealing as each other but none are better. Now, do that for multiple crafting types because without a variation of crafting types, everyone makes the same thing and there is no demand only supply.

 

If the whole concept is a card collecting game, why wouldn't I just play magic the gathering, no cash shop there  :P

 

 

Nothing is keeping you from playing Magic The Gathering.  I'm using the term "card" figuratively - they are traits, skills and talents that you then have in your account library that you can freely apply to characters you create.  You then take that character out into a 3D world and play.

Within the framework of crafting, let's look at creating armor.  You could have 500 crafting recipes just in this category alone without even scratching the surface.  I envision a module that allows players to design their own gear (which can be purchased seperately, of course), and then they can even sell the recipe. Outside of that module there will be standard crafting recipes you can buy/trade for.  Different variations of armor recipes would be for variant skins (once you craft a "skin", it is like a card you can apply to any comparable item), graphical effects, and  nearly infinite variant distributions of the stat pool via a weighted system. Let's say that each piece of armor has 3 stat categories: +defense (physical), +resistance (magical, psionic, effects), +hit points, and one slot for a "card".  Let's say the standard armor pool is 500 pts, and you can distribute it according to a weighted system. For example, 1-100 in any one stat is 1pt each; 101-200 is 2 pts each; 201+ is 3 pts each.  Then, you get to craft a "card" into the armor, giving you an additional, non-comparable trait, such as "chance of burning the attacker on impact" or "chance of reflecting magical attack" or "10% resistant to stun effects" or "increases gold find by 5%" or "decreases crafting component requirements by 5%" (imagine a full set of crafting gear) or "increase movement speed by 5%" or "increases climbing ability by 5%" or "increases charm by 5%" for political or social avenues of content).

Honestly, there would be the potential for infinite, meaningful horizontal crafting to suit any preference (other than for those that require vertical progression, of course).

A drive to "get things" can be satisfied by a purely horizontal game.  There's no sense in arguing if a purely horizontal MMORPG can succeed - we won't know until we try. However, many games succeed and have been around for a long, long time that have no "vertical progression" whatsoever, or none worth mentioning. League of Legends comes to mind.  Many very popular FPS have no vertical progression to speak of.  There's no "vertical progression" in most sports (where a player gets better by getting "better gear" that gives them an advantage over the other players or team) - in fact, in most sports and games, a fair and equal playing field, and as fair and equal a system as possible, is what makes the game enjoyable and competitive.  In many sports it's the person or the team with equal gear against the environment.

I'm not sure where the "vertical stat/gear progression" concept became so enmeshed in the idea of gaming, but IMO an MMORPG without vertical progression is a concept that should be tried out. Like I said, you don't even need to create a huge game world and a huge assortment of traits/talents/skills to begin with - just enough to populate your characters to begin with and give them something to work towards collecting via a world that doesn't require any "beginning" or "mid-range" conent.

I'd advise having a training area instances where players can try out their builds, much as League of Legends has a bot system for you to practice against.

Look, I don't have a whole game figured out in detail, I'm just throwing an idea against the wall. I'd like to see an MMORPG where I could always play with my friends and go anywhere in the world and play towards my horizontal goals with them - never be "left behind", and never have any world content whatsoever trivialized and abandoned.

  Larsa

Novice Member

Joined: 2/14/04
Posts: 992

12/05/12 9:17:31 AM#7
Originally posted by Meleagar
...

Such an MMOG could offer enormous long-term horizontal opportunities - to build houses, estates, even cities; become famous for many different reasons; explore factions and pursue political prestige, become an explorer, build boats or airships ... the sandbox-style possibilities would be endless.  And, in a flat game, there is no "pay to win" as far as a cash shop is concerned, so the game could be monetized for high profit.  The role-playing potential would be enornous.

There are many games where you can build houses, estates, cities, where you can become a famous crafter or politician, where you can build ships and space ships - but none of this is horizontal. What's the point of a famous crafter if every new player can make the same gear? You don't become famous by making the same stuff everyone else makes. What's the point of a house if it offers no benefit? There is no point.

And then you even want to introduce these features via expansions. What is left then in the original game beside thousands of mobs you can kill for whatever reason you might have to kill them.

Sounds to me you want League of Legends with fluff. Or probably GW1 with fluff. Or probably GW2 with fluff and instant max. level.

I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 9:20:39 AM#8
Originally posted by Meleagar
Originally posted by greenreen
...snip

Your words on this whole scheme are also vague. As an example, Work me out in text (not theory) how you make 500 crafting recipes that are all as appealing as each other but none are better. Now, do that for multiple crafting types because without a variation of crafting types, everyone makes the same thing and there is no demand only supply.

...snip

 

 

...snip

Within the framework of crafting, let's look at creating armor.  You could have 500 crafting recipes just in this category alone without even scratching the surface.  I envision a module that allows players to design their own gear (which can be purchased seperately, of course), and then they can even sell the recipe. Outside of that module there will be standard crafting recipes you can buy/trade for.  Different variations of armor recipes would be for variant skins (once you craft a "skin", it is like a card you can apply to any comparable item), graphical effects, and  nearly infinite variant distributions of the stat pool via a weighted system. Let's say that each piece of armor has 3 stat categories: +defense (physical), +resistance (magical, psionic, effects), +hit points, and one slot for a "card".  Let's say the standard armor pool is 500 pts, and you can distribute it according to a weighted system. For example, 1-100 in any one stat is 1pt each; 101-200 is 2 pts each; 201+ is 3 pts each.  Then, you get to craft a "card" into the armor, giving you an additional, non-comparable trait, such as "chance of burning the attacker on impact" or "chance of reflecting magical attack" or "10% resistant to stun effects" or "increases gold find by 5%" or "decreases crafting component requirements by 5%" (imagine a full set of crafting gear) or "increase movement speed by 5%" or "increases climbing ability by 5%" or "increases charm by 5%" for political or social avenues of content).

...snip

Boom, I knew you would layout gear, that's what I did too. It's the easy one to map out because it's stat based. What about more advanced crafting which would fit into a game like yours where the game is the experience instead of the numbers.

 

How about shipbuilding, furniture making, glassblowing, things that don't have stats on them, what would an approach be to advanced crafting. That was when I start to fall apart because there were no longer stats and now the only variations are color, size, styling which anyone might say one is better than another but they would have a finite combination vs ye olde stat based upgrades that are so easy to just move one tick up per expansion. Yes, yes, expansion again, I can't help but ponder longevity in the equation because mmos are meant to be played more than 3 months.

 

I think your concept is fun discussion material, you should flesh out more information and throw it into the "Developers Corner" forum another time too.

 

 

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 9:30:41 AM#9
Originally posted by Larsa
Originally posted by Meleagar
...

Such an MMOG could offer enormous long-term horizontal opportunities - to build houses, estates, even cities; become famous for many different reasons; explore factions and pursue political prestige, become an explorer, build boats or airships ... the sandbox-style possibilities would be endless.  And, in a flat game, there is no "pay to win" as far as a cash shop is concerned, so the game could be monetized for high profit.  The role-playing potential would be enornous.

There are many games where you can build houses, estates, cities, where you can become a famous crafter or politician, where you can build ships and space ships - but none of this is horizontal. What's the point of a famous crafter if every new player can make the same gear? You don't become famous by making the same stuff everyone else makes. What's the point of a house if it offers no benefit? There is no point.

...snip

I think I know a way around the gear part. It's pretty complicated to implement (without having constant downloads but web sockets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebSockets are promising for this) but if the look of the gear were different from different crafters then people would buy from those that made looks they wanted. I have plans in my personal game to do this, choice of material and a few pixels to draw on to create unique styles. Might suck for the less artistic but that's ok because I am planning group crafting so that people can share the outcome and both get a copy of the item they created together. It's part of why I'm so focused on SVG ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SVG ), the scaling will look nice in a preview and be large enough to draw on.

  Dibdabs

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/29/08
Posts: 2486

12/05/12 9:58:20 AM#10

Some good ideas, as long as Crafting could largely be ignored, since it bores the crap out of me in every MMO I have tried.  Ditto Housing.  I love the fantasy genre, and in the 50 years I've been reading the books/watching the films I can't recall many heroes spending hours of time prettifying their houses or chopping down trees, mining or whipping up a batch of chicken casserole and some cookies.  I want to kill, loot and rampage, not spend time in producing worthless crap just for the sake of it.  

My ideal game would be a high fantasy MMO with a skill-learning system somewhat along the lines of Eve Online.  I.E. Learn skills in real-time and thus end up with no Levels or Classes.  Even in Eve Online I'd rather work as a 'rat-hunter or if I must, an armed escort for the guys who like the monotony of pounding rocks to get Resources.  I have a day job already - I don't want a virtual one.

  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/05/12 10:20:59 AM#11

Sounds to me you want League of Legends with fluff. Or probably GW1 with fluff. Or probably GW2 with fluff and instant max. level.

Those who prefer infinite vertical progression usually classify everything that doesn't contribute to vertical progression as "fluff", so yes, I suppose it is fair to say that the game will be full of "fluff", but then that's what the whole idea is about - non-vertical content.

Why craft? Why build an estate? For the vertical progression player, there is no reason.

Look, I have no problem with there being a wide assortment of games with infinite vertical progression (progression that is increased every expansion).  There's nothing wrong with vertical progression per se. Just as there are many players - perhaps a majority - that find no satisfaction or reason to play a game without vertical progression, there are many of us that find no satisfaction or enjoyment in games where there is endless vertical progression.  I can't really enjoy games where I know there is going to be no end to progression.

I think there is a market for both kinds of players - and I'm not claiming those are the only two kinds of players. I'm just saying it's time, really, for an AAA MMORPG without vertical progression.  The success of League of Legends and GW1 indicate that such a game could indeed be successful, even if only for a viable niche market.

As far as being "handed" a maxed-out character - yes, I want everyone to start the game out with maxed-out characters. Actually, the term "maxed out" wouldn't really have any meaning in such a game.All characters would be built from the same limited pool of stats - the only difference would be distribution choices, non-comparables selection, and player skill.

 

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 10:26:17 AM#12
Originally posted by Dibdabs

...snip

My ideal game would be a high fantasy MMO with a skill-learning system somewhat along the lines of Eve Online.  I.E. Learn skills in real-time and thus end up with no Levels or Classes.  Even in Eve Online I'd rather work as a 'rat-hunter or if I must, an armed escort for the guys who like the monotony of pounding rocks to get Resources.  I have a day job already - I don't want a virtual one.

Gasp!

A sandbox without crafting would make me sing this song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUYaosyR4bE

It's good to see how different we all think, I think of the killing as grinding time wasting job because there is no product that lives forever (or until it's consumed) from it. I love crafting.

  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/05/12 10:35:37 AM#13
Originally posted by greenreen

Boom, I knew you would layout gear, that's what I did too. It's the easy one to map out because it's stat based. What about more advanced crafting which would fit into a game like yours where the game is the experience instead of the numbers.

 

How about shipbuilding, furniture making, glassblowing, things that don't have stats on them, what would an approach be to advanced crafting. That was when I start to fall apart because there were no longer stats and now the only variations are color, size, styling which anyone might say one is better than another but they would have a finite combination vs ye olde stat based upgrades that are so easy to just move one tick up per expansion. Yes, yes, expansion again, I can't help but ponder longevity in the equation because mmos are meant to be played more than 3 months.

 

I think your concept is fun discussion material, you should flesh out more information and throw it into the "Developers Corner" forum another time too.

 

 

Let's take shipbuilding.  There could be all sorts of ships that you can build, from one-person rafts & canoes to mighty steam-powered boats that can carry scores of players.  Ships could have inherent stats as well +defense, +maneuvering, + stealth, +speed. The crafting system for boats could be stongly weighted towards stealth and maneuvering, while as you gain larger boats they become weighted for defense, while different kinds of boats can be weighted for speed. Same with airships.  The system can allow for ship and airship battles where the ships all draw from the same stat pools. It can be near impossible to hit a raft or a canoe, but then it's not carrying enough firepower to be a threat to a larger ship. Etc.

Glass blowing can range from simple bottles for potions to very complex chandoliers, windows, and various artifact components that can be used to distribute stats or card systems in gear. I envision modules for such professions where you can design things like stained glass windows, light fixtures, trinkets, nick-nacks, etc.

This is just stuff off the top of my head. IMO, an endlessly-vertical progression game sucks all of the development creativity and talent into a very narrow focus. There's no telling what kind of horizontal systems can be invented and put in such a game. Also, everything one does will be relevant because all materials'/gold/tokens would be viable means of gaining horizontal goals in future updates. 

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 10:44:39 AM#14
Originally posted by Meleagar
Originally posted by greenreen

Boom, I knew you would layout gear, that's what I did too. It's the easy one to map out because it's stat based. What about more advanced crafting which would fit into a game like yours where the game is the experience instead of the numbers.

 

How about shipbuilding, furniture making, glassblowing, things that don't have stats on them, what would an approach be to advanced crafting. That was when I start to fall apart because there were no longer stats and now the only variations are color, size, styling which anyone might say one is better than another but they would have a finite combination vs ye olde stat based upgrades that are so easy to just move one tick up per expansion. Yes, yes, expansion again, I can't help but ponder longevity in the equation because mmos are meant to be played more than 3 months.

 

I think your concept is fun discussion material, you should flesh out more information and throw it into the "Developers Corner" forum another time too.

 

 

Let's take shipbuilding.  There could be all sorts of ships that you can build, from one-person rafts & canoes to mighty steam-powered boats that can carry scores of players.  Ships could have inherent stats as well +defense, +maneuvering, + stealth, +speed. The crafting system for boats could be stongly weighted towards stealth and maneuvering, while as you gain larger boats they become weighted for defense, while different kinds of boats can be weighted for speed. Same with airships.  The system can allow for ship and airship battles where the ships all draw from the same stat pools. It can be near impossible to hit a raft or a canoe, but then it's not carrying enough firepower to be a threat to a larger ship. Etc.

Glass blowing can range from simple bottles for potions to very complex chandoliers, windows, and various artifact components that can be used to distribute stats or card systems in gear. I envision modules for such professions where you can design things like stained glass windows, light fixtures, trinkets, nick-nacks, etc.

This is just stuff off the top of my head. IMO, an endlessly-vertical progression game sucks all of the development creativity and talent into a very narrow focus. There's no telling what kind of horizontal systems can be invented and put in such a game. Also, everything one does will be relevant because all materials'/gold/tokens would be viable means of gaining horizontal goals in future updates. 

Some of that could be labeled vertical progression though. Larger ship > more strength over smaller ship/raft, the glass not as much but you would probably run out of uses eventually for it although I do think a mount with windows would be funny - sort of a gypsy caravan. I still think it comes back to needing some way to improve things over time which is considered progression. Once you improve something ppl scream vertical but because of finite items you can't be totally horizontal. We already know that the other poster doesn't care about crafting at all, how do you introduce new creatures to them to keep them challenged, you would have to rely heavily on art and great AI mechanics but again, everything has a physical glass ceiling on how good we can go.

 

  Meleagar

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 407

 
OP  12/05/12 11:12:39 AM#15
Originally posted by greenreen
 

Some of that could be labeled vertical progression though. Larger ship > more strength over smaller ship/raft, the glass not as much but you would probably run out of uses eventually for it although I do think a mount with windows would be funny - sort of a gypsy caravan. I still think it comes back to needing some way to improve things over time which is considered progression. Once you improve something ppl scream vertical but because of finite items you can't be totally horizontal. We already know that the other poster doesn't care about crafting at all, how do you introduce new creatures to them to keep them challenged, you would have to rely heavily on art and great AI mechanics but again, everything has a physical glass ceiling on how good we can go.

 

You can label "better aesthetics" an "improvement" and call a different cosmetic "progression" if you wish, but the point about the ship-building is that different ships have different uses. IOW, you can't build a 20-person capacity boat that has more stats than any other boat - it can only have differently distributed stats and different uses because of size or construction. As far as a 20-person ship being "better" than a canoe, it depends on what you're using it for.  You can use a canoe to navigate down a fairly narrow river; a 20-person boat (or something larger) wouldn't be able to.  Would you really want to take a raft or a canoe out into the ocean and challenge larger boats?  You might use a smaller craft for personal transport and exploration - larger crafts for invasions or ship warfare. You might need to put virtually all stats in +defense to be able to outfit a ship with an ice-breaker to navigate ice-covered waters.

The way new creatures keep players challenged is by the same "card" system - you can introduce creatures that have different distributions of innate stats, different non-comparable abilities and various armor sets to challenge and add endless variety.  You can have a gradient of MOBS - some are easy to kill and you can wade into a bunch of them and succeed, but they give less loot each than harder MOBS.   Some mobs might require very specific builds, or combinations of very specfic builds, to sucessfully combat them.

Also, you can introduce whole new areas, MOBS, and corresponding trait/skill/talent systems that specifically deal with that area.   Without those "cards", the sledding is much tougher, and at some point very, very difficult without those specific kinds of cards.  For example, you could introduce an area with undead, where ghosts are virtually invisible and extremely deadly unless you have spectral vision.  The more spectral vision you have, the easier the ghosts are to hit and the less defense they have against you.  Why would you do this? Perhaps this is the only area where you can purchase, or get what you need to purchase (with some kind of unique tokens) spectral rainments, which are non-combat clothes that allow you to interact with deities. Being able to interact with deities can grant you all sorts of non-vertical perks and opportunities. Or you get some commodity that allows you to create glowing dyes. Who knows?

IMO, developers have just been trained to be myopic when it comes to game content. There's so much that can be put in a game when it doesn't have to be shackled, in some way, to endless vertical progression - I don't think the barest surface of such potential has even been scratched due to the development time focus on progression content.

  greenreen

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1500

12/05/12 11:26:11 AM#16
Originally posted by Meleagar
Originally posted by greenreen
 

Some of that could be labeled vertical progression though. Larger ship > more strength over smaller ship/raft, the glass not as much but you would probably run out of uses eventually for it although I do think a mount with windows would be funny - sort of a gypsy caravan. I still think it comes back to needing some way to improve things over time which is considered progression. Once you improve something ppl scream vertical but because of finite items you can't be totally horizontal. We already know that the other poster doesn't care about crafting at all, how do you introduce new creatures to them to keep them challenged, you would have to rely heavily on art and great AI mechanics but again, everything has a physical glass ceiling on how good we can go.

 

You can label "better aesthetics" an "improvement" and call a different cosmetic "progression" if you wish, but the point about the ship-building is that different ships have different uses. IOW, you can't build a 20-person capacity boat that has more stats than any other boat - it can only have differently distributed stats and different uses because of size or construction. As far as a 20-person ship being "better" than a canoe, it depends on what you're using it for.  You can use a canoe to navigate down a fairly narrow river; a 20-person boat (or something larger) wouldn't be able to.  Would you really want to take a raft or a canoe out into the ocean and challenge larger boats?  You might use a smaller craft for personal transport and exploration - larger crafts for invasions or ship warfare. You might need to put virtually all stats in +defense to be able to outfit a ship with an ice-breaker to navigate ice-covered waters.

The way new creatures keep players challenged is by the same "card" system - you can introduce creatures that have different distributions of innate stats, different non-comparable abilities and various armor sets to challenge and add endless variety.  You can have a gradient of MOBS - some are easy to kill and you can wade into a bunch of them and succeed, but they give less loot each than harder MOBS.   Some mobs might require very specific builds, or combinations of very specfic builds, to sucessfully combat them.

Also, you can introduce whole new areas, MOBS, and corresponding trait/skill/talent systems that specifically deal with that area.   Without those "cards", the sledding is much tougher, and at some point very, very difficult without those specific kinds of cards.  For example, you could introduce an area with undead, where ghosts are virtually invisible and extremely deadly unless you have spectral vision.  The more spectral vision you have, the easier the ghosts are to hit and the less defense they have against you.  Why would you do this? Perhaps this is the only area where you can purchase, or get what you need to purchase (with some kind of unique tokens) spectral rainments, which are non-combat clothes that allow you to interact with deities. Being able to interact with deities can grant you all sorts of non-vertical perks and opportunities. Or you get some commodity that allows you to create glowing dyes. Who knows?

IMO, developers have just been trained to be myopic when it comes to game content. There's so much that can be put in a game when it doesn't have to be shackled, in some way, to endless vertical progression - I don't think the barest surface of such potential has even been scratched due to the development time focus on progression content.

A lot of it still sounds vertical and we can play on the words and make anything sound semantically appealing. Reminds me of weather men that say partially cloudy day or partially sunny.  Devs are doing what they can. I think they are bound to produce things quickly so stats are the easiest things to manage in that regard. I know from my job that I make suggestions but they cost money so I often get told to just do the basics. Years down the road ppl sometimes return for the upgrades I originally suggested and it costs them more money to add it on because now we have to change some logic that could have been written with it in mind. Why this is relevant is because I code. I have no doubt that they are bound to do what sells too.

 

It too hinges on consumer demand. There can be tons of changes to game but if I walk into an mmo and I can't use WASD for movement or don't have a bag for inventory, I won't care how creative those devs were, they will make me feel like a noob in something I have been doing around 10 years. People don't want to learn how to do things over or new ways and when you take someone from 99% of the mmos and tell them "this is the better way", they will wince, struggle, and complain until you make it something they recognize, we saw it happen in GW2. They writhe because they don't know how to "win" without stats. There were events everywhere and people wanted dungeons because it was so bred into them that end game is stats and improving my gear. How can you get past that mentality. Without that (which is as much to blame on consumers as devs) out of the way, you will have a tough time changing minds or even getting enough population to be anything other than a blip that never makes it even a forum spot on a site like this. Without population it's hard to attract more people because there are more followers than leaders on the planet.

 

You could plan your idea out into documents and give it a test run on a kickstarter if you get staff together if you are ambitious and can get together some capable people with the same ideas.

  Xhieron

Novice Member

Joined: 10/03/06
Posts: 130

Don't trust these people. They're crooks.

12/05/12 12:33:00 PM#17

Player retention depends on the players having purpose.  That's not the same thing as progression--but that's an easy way to get there.  I understand the OP's desire, albeit perhaps only as a thought experiment, for a game that has neither carrots nor sticks but plenty of pastureland.  Like most of us, I've also had plenty of visions for the ideal MMO environment, but an absolutely horizontal presentation probably isn't profitable enough to justify the growing cost of developing a new game.  Here's my pet example.

 

For example, I'd love to see an MMO in which the bulk of the development budget was put into character customization, terrain (but very few structures), and systems in order to support a pseudo-freeform roleplaying environment.  Players could create characters anywhere from a small human child to a giant (not too giant, for stability reasons) eldritch abomination, and the people responsible for the "game" could be responsible for templating and categorizing customization options for purposes of effects (e.g., to be overly simplistic--if it has wings from category A, bipedal, has four non-wing limbs, and nothing from Category X1, 2, and 3, then it's an Angel, and Angel-specific effects can target it) notwithstanding the player's absolute liberty with character design (something between Spore and COX, may it rest in peace).  Players could be responsible for setting up the social structures and adding architecture to the world in the form of player cities, houses, stand-alone public buildings, etc., and there would be just enough natural flora and fauna (read: mobs) to give players things to hunt, but the risk of defeat wouldn't be the purpose.  In fact, the players could determine as part of the character design just exactly how physically/magically powerful a character is, and players would be responsible for minting currencies and controlling their own marketplaces.  This kind of environment specifically appeals to me because I have a deep-seated nostalgia for the collaborative writing I did back on the AOL RP boards & chat rooms in the early-mid nineties.

 

But such a game would never get off the ground without a form of purpose.  It could never generate enough players because people would run out of things to do.  Sure, starting off it might be pretty big, especially if it marketed well to the target demographic (roleplayers).  But if your guild fell apart, you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to log on anymore.  Developers would have to create content for players in order to retain them, and that would divert money from the RP-centric aspects of the game.  Moreover, the more liberty you create for players, the more likely the seedier element is going to look for ways to have a field day with your game systems, to say nothing of some players' outright disregard for the fundamental tenets of consensual roleplay (e.g., "Alright, gang; we're now the richest folks in town.  Time to fuck everybody over.  It's gouging time.")  The game just gets more and more expensive, and you have to create more and more systems to maintain a game that's non-exploitable.  However, even if you do that--even if by some miracle a developer were willing to pony up to make such a masterpiece run--it couldn't keep players indefinitely because players need purpose.  For many of us, the joy of writing is purpose enough, but SOE, for one, knows there's just not enough of us, so even if EQNext ends up being the sandboxyest title since UO, there's going to be ways to make your character better than another one.

 

Now that doesn't innevitably lead to themepark hell, but it does lead to non-horizontal game design.  By all accounts SWG is one of the closest approximations to my vision-game, and as far as its progression design at release, it was pretty horizontal, at least when it comes to gating content.  But there was absolutely an element of vertical progression, and as much as we all decry SOE's decisions to repeatedly tamper with the game's basic design (whether poorly implemented or not), I don't think anyone can honestly suggest the game was making the kind of money its investors wanted it to make.  It certainly wasn't appealing to as large a player base as it could have.

 

So I think the best we can hope for from a savvy game developer is a balance.  I believe very strongly in the sandbox game design philosophy--I want robust character customization and dense roleplay support, not to mention plenty of systems to provide alternatives to combat-centric character advancement--but I also feel very strongly that leveling up, whether in a whole-character leveling scheme or a skill-based scheme, is one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming.  Hitting level 29 on my enchanter in EQ was a phenomenal feeling.  The first time I undocked my Dominix gave me exactly the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and this genre is the best situated environment to cultivate both the sense of community-driven passion for cooperation and competition that fuels the sandbox community as well as the drive to accomplish goal-oriented objectives.  The trick is for these things to co-exist.

 

I think in the end, to deal with the OP's proposition on its face, a progressively flat game is probably not something that can stand on its own.  However, I think that horizontal-vertical progression is a thing that can be leveraged to satisfy players in multiple camps.  Notwithstanding my deep-seated bitterness over monocle-gate, EVE Online's skill system is a perfect example of how you could implement progression into a game in order to give players purpose and still have an ultimately horizontal system of player interaction (e.g., there comes a point in Eve after which, put simply, you literally cannot get any better at flying this particular ship.  Your skills are capped, and this puppy will do all it can for you.  Now that takes a good God damned long time, but it's within sight of a player who is focused on, for example, being a PVP Drake pilot).  The horizontality of advancement is not unlike the card system the OP suggested, in that by making changes to your available options--which is to say, getting in a different ship--you have a whole new stream of advancement that doesn't make your previous investment obsolete, and in fact there's plenty of overlap in places.

 

That has to be there though.  Something has to go there.  Non-writers need something in the game to give them their dopamine fixes.  That's why we're all playing video games instead of doing our jobs.  Sure, killing dragons is fun, but it's more fun if you get a big stack of exp and gold afterwards.  Unless he's just in it for sport (which some players would be--but not all), nobody's going to stick his neck out and charge into the dragon lair unless there's a damsel in distress or a big pile of cash nearby.

 

That's the kind of system that can exist alongside my dream-child game, and it's one of the main reasons that Eve continues to be a bastion of sandbox game design despite the fact that the company running the game is a bunch of unprofessional greed-mongering--ahem, anyway.  Hell, if it weren't for Hulkageddon I'd probably consider re-subbing to Eve just thinking about it.  It's also the kind of system that moves the OP's suggestion from a realm of financial unsustainability into one of questionable financial stability.  That's a pretty major leap.

Peace and safety.

  coretex666

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/03/12
Posts: 1831

"I shall take your position into consideration"

12/05/12 12:45:21 PM#18

First off, I think this belongs to "Game concepts" section.

As to the idea, I am afraid it would not have the potential to maintain sufficient playerbase for a long time. Why? Because people do like some sort of progression. They like it in real life and they like it in MMOs.

Unless of course it offers something that has not been seen before, something amazing, something you have not described in the OP.

Currently playing: L2 Chronicle 4

  nariusseldon

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20226

12/05/12 1:25:17 PM#19
Originally posted by greenreen

 

Sadly it all leads to some form of progression. I can understand making that as painless as possible but without "getting better or more things" what is going to make the majority of your users login to the game. As much as I dislike saying it, I do think some form of progression is necessary to satiate the majority.


 

 

Not "sad". It is human nature. It is what it is. Is it "sad" that we are beholden to emotions like "love" and "regret"?

  Siveria

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/11/11
Posts: 1170

12/05/12 1:29:00 PM#20
So bascally a mmorpg version of Terraria? it sounds quite a bit like what your describing.

Being a pessimist is a win-win pattern of thinking. If you're a pessimist (I'll admit that I am!) you're either:

A. Proven right (if something bad happens)

or

B. Pleasantly surprised (if something good happens)

Either way, you can't lose! Try it out sometime!

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